Over the weekend, the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion went viral on Twitter.
In response to US Republican efforts to defund abortion provider Planned Parenthood, thousands of women, mostly in the United States, shared their abortion experiences.
The campaign is simple: women ‘come out’, unapologetically, as having had an abortion. In doing so, they refuse to be stigmatised for decisions that were theirs to make.
I have spent the last 12 years heavily involved in reproductive rights campaigning across the world, including as an aid worker.
I have been involved in hundreds of campaigns and lobbying efforts. I think that the #shoutyourabortion campaign breaks new ground. It is powerful, it is necessary, and I believe that, if expanded, it could provide us with a way of talking about the issue of abortion that is no longer rooted in shame, stigma, and control of women’s bodies.
Here are three reasons why this is about so much more than abortion – and why I believe that #shoutyourabortion could be game-changing.
1. When abortion is illegal, EVERY pregnant woman is unsafe.
The criminalisation of abortion relies on a fundamental premise: the belief that a society – in particular, lawmakers – has the right to control a woman’s body.
In America, this has already led to the criminalisation of pregnant women. In the last few years, a flood of laws have been passed in Republican-controlled states which criminalise pregnant women who drink alcohol, take drugs, attempt suicide or do other activities deemed to harm their fetuses. While drug-taking and drinking can certainly damage unborn children significantly, evidence shows that criminalising pregnant women, instead of helping them to manage their addictions, is completely counter-productive.